What jockeys are going to have a successful year is often a topic of discussion amongst pundits and punters alike ahead of the start of every season, but it felt like the spotlight was on the big names more so than ever before the Guineas Festival kicked things off at Newmarket in May.
Frankie Dettori confirmed late last year that the 2023 campaign would be his final season in the saddle after roughly 30 years of riding in the United Kingdom, while three-time Champion Jockey Oisin Murphy made a much-anticipated return from suspension.
We are now approaching the halfway stage of the 2023 flat racing season and there have been plenty of headline moments from jockeys thus far in the campaign — most notably Dettori’s two Classic triumphs, winning the 2,000 Guineas and the Oaks with Chaldean and Soul Sister respectively.
That said, let’s take a look at some of the standout riders so far this season.
Kicking things off with the aforementioned Murphy, the Irishman has been on a redemption mission since he returned to the saddle after serving a 14-month ban in February — winning his first race back aboard Jupiter Express on the all-weather at Chelmsford.
There was much debate surrounding who would win this year’s Champion Jockey title between him and current holder William Buick after the Godolphin man won it the first time in the 27-year-old’s absence last year, but it is the 27-year-old who leads the way with 32 from 180 runs at the time of writing.
Murphy’s biggest win so far this season came in the 1,000 Guineas, as he won the second Classic of the year aboard Mawj — who was 9/1 pre-race in the Betfair racing odds. Other notable wins include the Group 3 Sagaro Stakes, the Group 2 Dante and the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes, while he also claimed second in the 2,000 Guineas with 125/1 outsider Hi Royal.
Another jockey already mentioned, it seemed inevitable that Dettori was going to win some big races throughout the course of this season when he announced his retirement last year. But not even he could have dreamt that his final campaign would pan out as it has to this point.
Like something out of a Hollywood movie script, the 52-year-old has won the 2,000 Guineas and the Oaks to add two more British Classics to his glittering CV. The biggest headline of the entire season would have been Dettori winning the Derby for a third time, but he could fare no better than 10th despite being on the hot favourite Arrest.
The legendary Italian has also enjoyed success in the Chester Vase (G3), Musidora Stakes (G3), Middleton Fillies’ Stakes (G2), Al Rayyan Stakes (G3), Princess Elizabeth Stakes (G3), Sandy Lane Stakes (G2) and the Group 1 Coronation Cup. Dettori also won his first Italian 2000 Guineas on his final attempt.
Like Dettori, Ryan Moore is no longer a jockey you see on the flat racing circuit on a daily basis. But when the 39-year-old shows up for a meeting he needs to be taken very seriously — his record this season is proof of that as he is 15 wins from just 64 rides this year, giving him an impressive strike rate of 23%.
The three-time Champion Jockey might rue the fact he didn’t win the 2,000 Guineas or the Oaks aboard short-priced favourites Auguste Rodin and Savethelastdance respectively, but his victory atop the former in the Derby earlier this month will surely make up for it. That was the third win in the prestigious race for Moore and a ninth for his trusty trainer Aidan O’Brien.
Moore has won the Abermant Stakes (G3), Chester Oaks (Listed), Dee Stakes (Listed), Huxley Stakes (G2), Chartwell Fillies’ Stakes (G3), Haras De Bouquetot Fillies’ Trial Stakes (Listed) and the Diamond Stakes (G3), while also winning numerous big races in Ireland — including Group 1s in the form of the Tattersalls Gold Cup and Irish 2,000 Guineas.